The 2018-2019 high school sports year has concluded. Another group of young men and women are off to college or the work-force, or somewhere in between. The past sports year, as it pertains to FCJ covered schools, was defined by solid team achievements and a lot of stand-out individuals.
In the fall, a main story was Mabel-Canton volleyball. Cougar volleyball is always a main story, but this year was different. Lonnie Morken’s group had a realistic chance at finally making state again. Led by seniors Lexi Thorson, Hannah Snell, and Maddy Michels, and sophomore setter Kenidi McCabe, the Cougars won their 21st straight SEC title (division or otherwise), and beat Spring Grove for the 1A East title. They had to down Medford to grab that elusive spot at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It wasn’t to be though. The Tigers had their “super” team, like Wabasha-Kellogg and Fillmore Central before them, in addition to “super” programs like B.A. and Caledonia. M-C settled for Section 1A Runner-Up. They finished 30-6. McCabe topped 2,000 career assists. Thorson finished a fine five-year career with over 1,500 career digs. Junior Payton Danielson also went over 1,000 career digs. Morken was later named Class A Coach of the Year. Travis Malley’s Fillmore Central volleyball also had another solid year. Behind seniors Madison Scheevel and Paige Donlinger, the Falcons went 10-1 in the TRC (second place), 17-12 overall. Scheevel ended her career with over 1,600 career assists. Rushford-Peterson volleyball used its big senior class to post a 15-13 season. Libero Alyvia Eide led the TRC in digs. Houston volleyball also stayed just on the plus side of things, going 11-10. Kingsland volleyball finished 15-18, but got another excellent season from Lauren Buchholtz. The senior went over 1,000 career kills. Sister Ellie was also impressive. It would be the first of two sports where the siblings excelled simultaneously. Teammate Taylor Zimmerman went over 1,000 career digs. On the football field, three Journal covered teams were state ranked (Houston, Chatfield, R-P) and two made Section title games (Houston, Chatfield). Cody Hungerholt’s Houston Hurricanes continued their prominence. Behind seniors Jaytin Millen, Joey Fishel, and James Hongerholt, the ‘Canes went 9-2. They had two losses. Both were to Alex Folz’s state champion Spring Grove Lions, including in the 9-Man Section 1 title game. Houston finished as 9-Man Section 1 Runner-Up. Millen (1,465 yards, 17 total TDs) and Fishel (1,041 yards, 13 TDs) each topped 1,000 yards rushing. The later was SEC Defensive Player of the Year. At the same time, Jeff Johnson’s Chatfield Gophers had a strong season. They pushed Caledonia in the regular season. Led by running backs Gage Tuohy and Carson Larrabee, linebacker Chance Backer, two of the Gophers’ three defeats were to the eventual state champion Warriors. The last was in the Class AA Section title game. Chatfield finished as 1AA Runner-Up with an 8-3 record. Tuohy had a marvelous season (1,356 yards rushing, 10 total TDs), and Backer was a hitting machine. Elsewhere, Davin Thompson’s R-P Trojans also spent time ranked in state. Led by fourth-year QB Landon Skalet and defensive stand-out Carter Weidemann, the Trojans posted their seventh straight winning season (7-3). “Skalie” finished with over 3,700 yards passing for his career and 46 TDs. M-C football went 5-5, but Drew Wyffels was 1st team 9-Man All-State, 3rd team All-State period, and Blake Henry was a 9-Man All-State Honorable Mention pick. Led by converted QB Josh Peters, Fillmore Central football went 4-5. Peters led the Falcons in rushing, doing so for a third straight year. But the fall’s top individual performer was R-P sophomore Luke O’Hare. O’Hare dominated the Section 1A cross country scene, winning the TRC Meet and the Section 1A meet on the way to a state berth. Teammate Aidan Elllinghuysen also made state in cross country.
Winter season was really about individual feats. It seemed every other week somebody was topping 1,000 points or setting some school scoring record. County basketball teams had good seasons, but no one had an excellent campaign (all but one had double-digit losses). Only one piece of hardware was won (Houston girls, SEC-East Champs). Rushford-Peterson’s young boys group made the Section Final Four, but fell to Randolph. In Chris Drinkall’s first year as coach, the Trojans finished 18-11. Kingsland and Houston hoops teams each did some work. Both schools’ boys and girls teams each made Rochester. John Fenske’s Kingsland boys went 17-11, but fell to Randolph at Mayo Civic in the Section quarterfinals. Steve Hauser’s Lady Knights went 16-10, but fell to Hayfield in the same place. Dale Moga’s Houston girls went 16-11 and won the SEC-East for a second straight year. They made Rochester for the first time in a while, falling to Goodhue in a quarterfinal. Trent Vix’s Hurricane boys went 13-15, but made Rochester. They pushed eventual Section champion Spring Grove to the end in a quarterfinal, but were felled. Levi Olstad’s Fillmore Central’s girls also had a strong year, going 17-9. Amidst all that, teams were relying a lot on premier players. Wyatt Pruter was Kingsland boys top player, as the senior averaged 21.8 PPG, toping 1,000 career points for his career. Lauren Buchholtz was Kingsland girls top player, as the senior averaged 17.8 PPG and 10.4 RPG. Already over 1,000 points to begin the season, she set both Knight girls’ and school scoring marks (1,548). Sister Ellie was a very nice accomplice again, as the sophomore averaged 16.2 PPG. Houston had three players’ record milestones. Alyssa Rostad averaged 19.4 PPG to lead the Lady ‘Canes. Already over 1,000 career points to begin the season, Rostad set the Houston girls’ and school scoring marks (1,756). Emma Geiwitz was a nice accomplice, as the sophomore had a break-out season in averaging 18.3 PPG. On the boys side, both Alex Van Gundy and James Hongerholt topped 1,000 career points. Van Gundy scored 16.9 PPG, Hongerholt 15.5 PPG. Teammate Mikkel Schutte had an impressive start to the season (21 points, 16 rebounds per in the first nine games with Hongerholt injured). Elsewhere, Lanesboro’s Carson Schwichtenberg and Mabel-Canton’s Drew Wyffels each went over 1,000 career points. Schwichtenberg averaged 18.6 PPG. Wyffels again put up across the board numbers, 11.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 3.4 SPG. Lady Cougar junior Payton Danielson also topped 1,000 career points. R-P had its acclaimed senior shooter in Landon Skalet, who finished with over 900 points and a 42.4% three-point percentage for his career. For the Lady Trojans, Abbey Hoegh scored 18.6 PPG in her one year of varsity action. Chatfield sophomore Reid Johnson had his second big season in leading Chatfield in scoring at 16.6 PPG. M-C’s Dylan Loppnow joined Kingsland’s Buchholtz in averaging a double-double (15.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG). FC’s Kandace Sikkink had a break-out year in nearly averaging a double-double (12.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG). All told, 24 county basketball players averaged double-digit scoring including 19 who averaged better than 12.0 PPG. On the wrestling mats, Chatfield had the best team-season, going 8-7. Five Journal covered grapplers made state. LARP’s Ross Herber (fourth) and Noah Herber (fifth) each made the medal stand, as did Chatfield’s Cael Bartels (fifth). Gopher Seth Goetzinger competed for a second time at the state meet while LARP’s Gable Speltz made his first appearance. Former R-P basketball coach Tom Vix was nominated for National Coach of the Year.
Spring was all about, but not limited to, track and field. There was all sorts of team and individual success. GMLOK’s girls (coached by Aaron Thauwald), LFCMC’s boy and girls (coached by Alex Aiken and Jana Boyum), and RPH’s boys (coached by Dale Moga and Alexa Karavos) each made the state True Team meet. GMLOK went as Section 1A champions. All four teams finished top six. GMLOK then sent its girls 4×200 and 4×100 relays, plus Hailey Hindt (300-hurdles) and Lauren Buchholtz (Long Jump) to state individually. The 4×200 (Hindt, Buchholtz, Anika Reiland, Riley Queensland) won a state title, defending their crown. The 4×100 (Buchholtz, Reiland, Kassidy Kirtz, Isabelle Olson) took third. Hindt took third. LFCMC sent its boys 4×200 and 4×400 teams (Carson Kiehne, Drew Wyffels, Josh Peters, Ben Snyder), plus Emma Breitsprecher, Kassidy Broadwater, and Carson Kiehne. Breitsprecher finished top four in both of her events (100-hurdles, 300-hurdles). The 4×400 took third. Chatfield also got two relays to state in its boys 4×100 (Carson Larrabee, Ben Muller, Gage Tuohy, Chance Backer) and 4×200 (Muller, Baker, Jack Tuohy, Backer). RPH sent individual entrants Luke O’Hare (1,600, 3,200) and Triton Meldahl (110-hurdles). On the links, Aaron Mensink’s FC girls golf again won a section title, competing at state for sixth straight year. Madison Scheevel headlined the group, and nearly the entire state, as the senior put a nearly perfectly fitting (but still quite comfortable) cap on her illustrious high school golf career. In her sixth appearance, she was Class A runner-up. FC also sent a boys entrant in 8th grader Jake Fishbaugher. LARP boys golf, coached by Luke Rye, shared the TRC-East title. On the softball diamond, the best two county teams of late did their thing. Kati Bergey’s Mabel-Canton squad (15-8) won the 1A East title and finished as Section 1A runner-up. Like on the volleyball court, seniors Lexi Thorson, Maddy Michels, and Hannah Snell, sophomore Kenidi McCabe, led the way. Jerry Chase’s Chatfield softball also had a fine year (19-6), making its sixth straight trip to Austin. The coach’s daughter, Lexi Chase, was the main impetus, as the junior, for a fourth time, made an All-State team. Additionally, John O’Connor’s FC/L softball squad made a surprise run to a 1A title game and John Fenske’s GMLOK group posted a solid 12-9 season. On the baseball diamond, GMLOK was the headliner, as Dakotah Rostad’s Bulldogs won an SEC crown in their first year in the league, going undefeated in Southeast play. They finished 17-3 on the season. Senior Drew Copley had a huge year, coming back better than he was following an injury. He was honored as SEC Player of the Year. He also made Class AA All-State, an impressive feat. No other county baseball team finished above five hundred, though R-P’s Carter Weidemann had a season that rival (or exceeded) that of Copley’s (at least offensively).
The most noteworthy individual athlete, the Sportsperson of the Year, is Kingsland senior Lauren Buchholtz. From 1,000 points, to basketball school scoring marks, to qualifying for state four times in track including bringing home a state title amidst the GMLOKS 4×200, she was impressive (All-Conference) every season. M-C’s Drew Wyffels is the most acclaimed male athlete, as he made All-Conference in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, track/field) for a second straight year. FC’s Josh Peters (A-C football/track and field, A-C HM basketball) and Madison Scheevel (A-C volleyball/golf, A-C HM basketball), Kingsland’s Reid Kruegel (A-C football/baseball, A-C HM basketball), and Houston’s Alyssa Rostad (A-C basketball/softball, A-C HM volleyball) were four other three-sport standout seniors. FC’s Emma Breitsprecher (basketball, track/field), Carson Kiehne (football, track/field), Kaylee Arndt (cross country, track/field), and Hadrian Williams (football, track/field) were purely All-Conference in two sports, as were M-C’s Lexi Thorson (volleyball, softball), Kenidi McCabe (volleyball, softball), and Payton Danielson (volleyball, basketball), R-P’s Landon Skalet (football, basketball), Carter Weidemann (football, baseball), and Luke O’Hare (cross country, basketball), Kingsland’s Wyatt Pruter (basketball, golf) and Ellie Buchholtz (volleyball, basketball), Chatfield’s Chance Backer (football, track/field) and Nathan Goldsmith (football, wrestling), and Lanesboro’s Carson Schwichtenberg (basketball, track/field).